Shop Talk

SHOP TALK: Kaliyana marks 25 years. An interview with designer Jana Kalous

Shop Talk is written by OM senior editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.

This year, Ottawa-based clothing line Kaliyana celebrates 25 years of business — and 20 years at their Sussex location. It’s an amazing feat, really, considering the fact that the line isn’t exactly a crowd-pleaser. With it’s sweeping silhouettes, alternative fabrics, and asymmetrical lines, Kaliyana bucks trends and offers a modern, confident look for progressive women.

The Spring 2013 line from Kaliyana features fresh greens — and sleek, modern lines.

The name is a derivative of the designer’s, Jana Kalous. Switched around and shortened, it reflects the modular concept and the fact that most pieces can be worn together — but the sky is the limit when it comes to styling. Most of all, Kaliyana pieces are comfortable, original, and “all things I would want to wear myself,” says Jana.

In fact, the originality of the line is what Jana attributes to its long-standing appeal. “I’m offering something people can’t get anywhere else,” she says, “the uniqueness of our design has led to a loyal following.” When pushed to describe what makes Kaliyana so different, Jana uses one word: effortlessness.

“It makes everyone feel good when they wear it. It’s an easy makeover, an instant transformation.”

Over the years she has stayed true to her mantra of comfort and style. However, these days she spends more time watching European styles than those of Japan, where she first drew her inspiration.

And this spring she is, for apparently the first time, on-trend with her choice of emerald green. “It just turns out to be a really hot colour,” Jana says, with some trepidation. While most designers would be over the moon to have chosen one of the season’s choice colours, she explains that “sometimes people come to us for colours that they can’t find elsewhere.” (And for those people, there are hits of orange and magenta in the Spring 2013 line.)

Jana Kalous has been selling avant-garde women's clothing on Sussex Drive for 20 years.

As for the future, Jana hopes for at least 10 more years, and is hoping to find someone new to takeover the business. But despite the success of online sales, she is staying put on Sussex.

“Of course, we didn’t love that construction, but it’s a high profile location. People who have heard of us like the destination location.”

Plus, part of the Kaliyana motto is ‘love it or leave it’, which means no returns on online purchases. We are lucky to have Kaliyana in Ottawa — stop by sometime, you might just love it.

Kaliyana, 515 Sussex Dr. 613-562-3676. 

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